Exposé Online banner

Ghost Train Orchestra — Book of Rhapsodies, Vol II
(Accurate Records , 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-12-09

Book of Rhapsodies, Vol II Cover art

When it comes to the music of the 1930s, names like Duke Ellington and Count Basie come readily to mind, and their music is readily available. But during that era, many other composers and bandleaders were filling ballrooms and making 78RPM records. Brian Carpenter and his Ghost Train Orchestra are on a mission to bring the forgotten gems of that era to light, digging through dusty bins of old 78s and painstakingly transcribing the music found on them. But their goal is not to reproduce the old music note for note — they aim to interpret the tunes through a modern lens and have fun doing it. They are entertainers, not historians. After all, the 78s still exist, so if you want to hear the originals, you can seek them out. (Many are becoming available online in digital repositories.) In addition to Carpenter, who plays trumpet, the Orchestra consists of Mazz Swift (violin), Ben Kono (alto saxophone), Dennis Lichtman (clarinet), Petr Cancura (saxophone), Curtis Hasselbring (trombone), Ron Caswell (tuba), Avi Bortnick (guitar), Michael Bates (bass), Rob Garcia (drums), and Rob Reich (accordion). A number of vocalists also participate, including a chorus of children for “Kindergarten Flower Pageant.” Yeah, they’re having fun. Much like in an old-time radio broadcast, there are occasional announcements to introduce a tune, done in an appropriately deadpan tone even if the words are a little goofy. The main anachronism in the arrangements is the occasional prominence of electric guitar, which sometimes takes on a distorted tone that would not have been possible during the original era. That’s an observation, not a criticism — in no way does it detract from the quality of the album. A number of groups have lately been plying similar streams of music (Microscopic Septet comes to mind), but Carpenter’s ensemble has their own twist on it, and their own unique identity. All of the players are excellent (Swift stands out on several songs with some outstanding solos), and they dive into the material with a spirit of adventure and joy that shines through. Take a break from distortion and electronic trickery and get a taste for how people had fun 80 or so years ago. Bonus points if you wear vintage threads...


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Curtis Hasselbring (Curha), Ghost Train Orchestra

Latest news

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Legendary Pink Dots - Seconds Late for the Brighton Line – 2010 marks the 30th anniversary of this band as well as a major change to their lineup. Long time band member Niels van Hoorn departed because of the demands of constant touring, reducing the band to...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues